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Working out your Workout Schedule

December 23rd, 2010 8:41 am | by

As a personal trainer, one skill I have come to possess in abundance is the ability to distinguish whether or not someone is actually paying attention.

And while most people seem to catch on quickly enough to instructions in the gym, even the most attentive fitness seeker goes blank when I mention working out at home.

For many, the thought of spending 30-45 minutes exercise (or worse still, stretching) at home is the reason why they hire a trainer in the first place: to remain accountable without having to take too much time out of their busy lives.

This is something I can appreciate and a concern I share, but the misconception I think most of us make is that any worthwhile physical activity must be performed for at least 30-60 minutes to have any meaningful effective.

Though the surgeon general may recommend this number for optimal physical health, what if I told you everything that you needed on a daily basis could be done in under 30 minutes? (and in some cases, under 60 seconds).

Now, before you file this article away next to your Buns of Steele videos or Shake Weights, keep in mind what I am offering is not a magic pill, but rather a means of becoming more efficient with your time.

Read on to learn more about how to improve every aspect of your workout through simply time management.

Sync up your Strength Training:

To understand the concept of time management in your workout, lets say you decide to devote exactly ten to fifteen minutes per day to strength training and cardio. This means every exercise you are seeking to train must fit in to this time period.

While the first reaction may be to estimate a set number of reps, sets and exercises, the reality is this number will inevitable change based upon factors such as motivation and energy levels.

You may run over due to talking to friends or getting distracted or simply burn out because things are boring taking too long. This is why most workouts in the gym take 45-90 minutes.

By the same token, if we were to assign a specific amount of time to perform a circuit of exercises, we create a sense of urgency to get things done.

In order to fit both cardio and strength training in at the same time, this would involve assigning a short circuit of exercises performed back to back for a specific time limit:

Push ups- 8 reps
Squat- 8 reps
Burpees- 8 reps
*Perform each exercise back to back for reps allotted above. Perform total circuit as many times as possible in ten minutes.

While you can still take rest periods and stop to drink water, the urgency of knowing you have exactly ten minutes to bang out as many rounds as possible serves as a motivation.

While you may knock out more rounds in some days than others, the point is you push yourself to the limit with each workout.


Fitting In Flexibility:

During a busy day filled with distractions, stretching is probably the last thing on your mind (if at all). In my experience, this is due to the perception of stopping and holding in various positions for 15 minutes or longer to make a significant difference.

I will be the first to admit this is a hassle and another misconception which is rooted in myth. Much as we advocate full body workouts to work as many muscles as possible, a stretching routine should only contain 3-5 key stretches which address key areas of the body.

For purposes of convenience, we can also break these stretches up in to increments throughout the day. While we want to hold each stretch for 60 seconds, this could be broken up in to any combination of shorter times periods.

For purposes of simplicity, let’s say we break up our four stretches in to two thirty second bouts throughout the day:

8 AM: Hip flexor
10 AM: Chest stretch
5 PM: Prayer stretch
8 PM: Pigeon stretch
* Perform each stretch for 30-60 seconds.

While this will not make things any more interesting or exciting, breaking up your stretching in this manner is undoubtedly more efficient and manageable.

In our second video, we feature a four minute flexibility routine to do just that.


Carving out your Core:

Perhaps the number one and two requests I receive from clients on my program is a flat stomach and/or ripped abs. The challenge on my end is getting past the perception that this means banging up 300 crunches in the gym.

Even if you were to do crunches only (and you didn’t spend 6-8 hours hunched over a desk), doing all of these exercises in one sitting would not be the optimal scenario.

Because our abs are smaller muscles consisting mainly of slow twitch (endurance based) muscle fibers, they respond better to a higher frequency of exercises spread out over a greater period of time.

In practical application, this means performing 25 crunches every 1-2 hours would be a much better fit than attempting to overload them at once and compromising form.

From a scheduling perspective, it is also much easier to perform one minute of these exercise every few hours than set aside 5-10 to do them back to back. If we were to devote five minutes to core training per day, we could simply repeat this circuit at various times throughout the day for sixty seconds at a time.
Now, subtract the crunch and enter the plank. As opposed to crunches which reinforce hunchback posture, a staple in our core training program are planking exercises which involve movement of the arms and legs while maintaining an flat back and abdominal contraction in a push up position.

By combining several plank variations together in to a circuit, we can achieve a superior training effect in as little sixty seconds. An example may look like this:
Plank with movement of the arms
Plank with movement of the legs
Plank with movement of the arms and legs
*Perform each exercise back to back for twenty seconds.


Putting it all together:

The main takeaway from this article is not to become fixated on getting everything done in one sitting. By applying the strategies above to our weekly workout, we can achieve superior training results with time to spare.

With the use of a simple planner or workout log, time efficient training becomes a matter of penciling in time for each portion of our workout and executing as if attending a meeting or picking up the kids.

Workout
Schedule

 Workout
Section

Allotted
time

Directions

 

9:15-9:30
AM

Strength
Training

15
minutes

Perform
as circuit for as many rounds as possible in 15 min.

 

1,
3, 5, 7 PM

Flexibility
routine

4
minutes

Perform
as four sixty second circuits. Repeat throughout day

 

2,
4, 6, 8 PM

Core
Routine

60
sec

Perform
as four sixty second circuits. Repeat throughout day

 


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